Thursday, April 22, 2010




I’m not looking for something holy in my indifference

that could pass for an absent angel.

And I don’t imagine a heaven that’s waiting for me

because of anything I’ve done or didn’t do.

I don’t draw inferences out of the shadows

of the white hyacinth’s

mantled tower of blossoming nuns

and I’m as tolerant as the new bees

trying to break in the pulse of the sun

flower by flower

like an unknown power

that seeks them out like gold-dust in a river

that flows from a secret watershed

obsessed with fountains.

I’m fireflies in the valley.

I’m stars in the mountains.

And whether I’m at peace with my existence or not

or I’m just the eye of a passing storm the sky forgot

like a last look over the shoulders of the hills

with selective memories

my brain cells are jammed 

like cradles of warm milk and honey

that know nothing of paradise in the womb

or the original home we kill each other over

like poppies on an ancestral tomb

that makes death holier than life.

I sit here like a bench

that hasn’t been upended

in the temples of the money-changers

who fear that every stranger they meet

is another mad messiah

about to knock them off their feet

for selling doves like sacrificial meat

to a god that doesn’t eat.

And I watch the hearses being washed

in the parking lot across the way

like the funeral horses of yesterday

being plumed like waves

to draw another deathcart

like a labour of love to our graves.

And it occurs to me

that the great sea of awareness

may well be an orchard with angels for sails

perched like birds on the powerlines

of our musical event horizons

worn out like old thresholds of the tide

with our comings and goings

and the arcane originality of thought

is already a dead species among the Burgess Shales

that evolution quotes from profusely

like a double-feature of what’s to come

but even this oceanic vision of life

the angels haven’t learned to sail well yet

is still just one blossom among many others

that lay their swords down on the water like the moon

surrendering for everyone.

I watch the worlds within worlds within me

pass through spaces

where they’re as true everywhere

as birds are here.

And I’m alive in everyone of them somehow

as if they were all aspects of a single mind

that lives me as it lives the flower and the rock

as it lives everyone and everything

like a star that only appears where it isn’t.

Life is like that.

Knowledge is like that.

The whole of sentient existence is like that

from the carbon-hearted sun down

to the silicon-brained grain of sand

that wears the moon like a pearl through its tongue.

Created in the image of ineffable life

means there’s nothing within or without

whether you’re full of doubt

trying to break yourself open like a koan

or dreaming you’re awake

that isn’t you’re own simulacrum.

But it’s not like a mirror

reflecting the likeness of everything

that comes before it like a dumb show

or a shadowy pantomime.

The mirror looks through your eyes creatively

and divines a simile for itself

in everything it sees

as if existence were mysteriously human

in the way it imagines a world that isn’t.





















In the shadow of the crow’s wing

the night is not a reward.

In the sacred grove

where no birds sing

I stand like a homely word

a knot of flesh and blood in the heartwood

a divining rod at a fork in the river

hoping I might mean something

green and forgiving again.

It’s easier than it was before

I thought the stars had their reasons

to let go of things

not leaf by leaf

but whole seasons at a time.

It’s easier than it was before

I thought suffering was rooted in compassion

to see how the moonlight falls like lime upon the dead.

In the shadow of the crow’s wing

the night is not a reward.

There is no stone that holds

the keepsake of a magic sword by the blade.

There is no sleeve of darkness with a lucky card

you can pull out like an afterlife in Orion

to avoid losing everything.

I can draw a perfect circle

in one quick Zen gesture of the brush

and not worry about whether

I’m centered by the flow or not.

I lived on the wild side once

before I was caught by my freedom

in a crossfire of slave-hunting stars.

Now I take more pride in my smile

than I do in my scars

because I get away with more

keeping joy ajar like a door

than I do manning a war

that was lost a long time ago.

In the shadow of the crow’s wing

the night is not a reward

and happiness is a dangerous myth

that comes and goes like an itinerant religion.

And it baffles my captors completely

that I can wash them off

like the dark matter of a universe in chains

that has neatly adapted its genes

to the chromosomes of my afterbirth

as if it were the first course of the last supper

before I descended into hell

like an air-raid warning

over Sodom and Gomorrah

that didn’t take its own advice

to get out and not look back.

In the shadow of the crow’s wing

the night is not a reward

and fire doesn’t cook coal into diamonds

hard won from the darkness

like enlightenment from ore.

In the shadow of the crow’s wing

the night is not a reward

and the damned know better than anyone

who took a short-cut across the bridge

as if the river had a third side for suicides

however you fling yourself down

like a challenge and a protest on the ground

you’re still just an improvised explosive device

planted in paradise.

It’s easier than it was before

to turn myself in like a lamp to the night

for questioning the way I made my own way

in the company of gypsy fireflies

that laughed at the stars like old friends

sharing the same fire.

It’s easier to render unto Caesar

that which was never his

than it is to make amends

for the things I didn’t do

because that’s just the way it is

when the fire burns without ambition.

In the shadow of the crow’s wing

the night is not a reward

and the moon doesn’t collect silver

like rings from the dead

and there’s no raven on your windowsill

that makes the glass sweat with dread

like a bad child in a quaint nightmare.

The plough and the sword

are two phases of the same moon

that wound the flesh like soil

that is bound by toil to the seed.

False gods are worshipped in the fields

and the scarecrows bleed.

It’s easier than it was before

I gave up pacing tomorrow

in a race with today

as if I had a plan to take the lead

in a last kick toward the finish line

to leave things behind by letting them pass

like the retrograde motion of Mars

as the earth overtakes it on an inside track

doubling back on itself unawares

like the snakes and ladders of helical stairs

at the end of their beginnings.

In the shadow of the crow’s wing

the night is not a reward

and in the bleak pages

the black shales

of a forbidden holy book

that embellishes its kells like scars

no one looks for their descendants

in the fossils of the fleet-footed stars

that erase themselves like waterbirds

when they discover

how one word is lonelier than another

as you approach perfection

with nothing to talk about.

In the shadow of the crow’s wing

the night is not a reward

for those who have escaped detection

like the blackhole of a universal appetite

leaner than the light of the leftover halo

that couldn’t get its head around things

when it was discovered like lost earrings

it was just another zero in the rain

trying to avoid the blame

for its sin of omission.